(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter to prisoners at a correctional facility in the Italian district of Latina, assuring them of his spiritual closeness and his prayers during the Christmas season.
In his letter, addressed to the Chaplain Don Nicola Cupaiolo, Pope Francis said that he hoped that the time spent in the facility would not be seen as “time lost,” but rather “as a further occasion for genuine growth in order to find peace of heart and the strength to be reborn, a return to living the hope in the Lord who never disappoints.”
The Holy Father included with his letter the gift of a new Missal, with the hope that those in the facility “might discover in the Holy Mass the track of the daily journey with the Lord, who is the efficacious physician of your wounds, the faithful friend of each day, and the necessary nourishment to sustain you in that journey of salvation and liberation that not even prison bars can impede.”
Pope Francis assured the prisoners that he was close to them and to their families, and asked them to pray for him, too.
The correctional facility is in the Diocese of Terracina-Latina-Sezze-Privett, just outside Rome. Its Bishop, Mariano Crusade, expressed his “joy and gratitude” for the gesture of the “exquisite attention of the Holy Father” for the 120 detainees of the facility, including more than 30 women held in the maximum security for crimes relating to terrorism and organized crime.
Below, please find the complete text of Pope Francis letter to inmates at the correctional facility in Latina:
Dearest friends at the Casa circondariale di Latina,
Peace in Christ,
First of all, I would like to ask you to forgive me if I have not responded earlier to so many of you who have written to me. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to do everything one would like to do.
I am particularly happy that this reaches you a few days before one of the feasts that is most dear to us: the Holy Nativity, the birth of Jesus – that Jesus who desires nothing else than to be born in the crib of the each of our hearts!
With the best wishes of a happy Christmas to all of you, I hope that the hours, the days, the months, and the years you have passed or are passing in this “Casa circondariale di Latina” would be seen and experienced not as time lost, or as a temporary punishment, but as a further occasion for genuine growth in order to find peace of heart and the strength to be reborn, a return to living the hope in the Lord who never disappoints.
I am pleased to know that many of you are following a path of faith with the Chaplain Don Nicola, and with the many people who collaborate in being close to you, not only on account of the duties of [their] office but through an interior readiness to sincerely consider you sisters and brothers. I encourage you to continue this journey with perseverance and heartfelt gratitude for all the people that are helping you to follow it.
For this reason, I include with this letter the gift of a new Missal, that you might discover in the Holy Mass the track of the daily journey with the Lord, who is the efficacious physician of your wounds, the faithful friend of each day, and the necessary nourishment to sustain you in that journey of salvation and liberation that not even prison bars can impede.
Dearest friends, be assured that I am close to you and I pray for you, asking the Lord to console you with His peace and His sweet presence. I am close also to your families and to all those who are dear to you. I ask you to tell them that I think of them and that I bless them.
May the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, fill you with the joy of His Nativity, and reward all those who are close to you: the staff, the volunteers, and your Director. May the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary keep you under her maternal mantle.
And please, pray for me!
Vatican City, 8 December 2014
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